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Reading for Christmas

M. Eileen Scott CND († 1987)

Tonight at midnight, God initiates the community of the dispossessed. He creates it by becoming one with it. He sustains it by remaining within it. He gives it meaning by making there a gradual revelation of himself. Bethlehem is Africa, where children are killed for pretensions of power; it is Latin America, where people starve through the indifference of others; it is every city street, every unholy slum, every fireless room. It has other facets too: the loveless electric tree, the token giving, the glamour with joy – the signs without the signified. And so the Lord Christ lies between the beasts.

But somehow out of rejection, he structures community: out of the darkness at last come those who recognise love. He waits – for love takes time. He gives love where it can be given, to the poor, to the believing, and even to the hard of heart. Strange as it may seem, at this moment there is no one else to give it to. But out this situation, out of this moment of beginning, love spreads out to the world, it becomes accessible and universal.

God, says Padovano, comes only to community-makers. The Church itself can only work through human relationships. So the Christian, God oriented, reaches out for God through his fellow man, in the full experience of living. In the sharing of joy, in the exchange of mutual experience, in the freedom of dialogue, he finds both God and community.

This sense of involvement with misery, with ignorance, lies at the heart of Marguerite Bourgeoys’s first insights. She found her love-situation first in the streets of Troyes, then in and through the loving contact of those who thought with her in the small sisterhood of the rue du Chaudron. What matter that this experiment failed? There are always new reasons for loving, new ways to love. The sense of mission sharpened, was oriented towards the new World. Bethlehem was the squalid longhouse, the cheerless cabin, the isolation and the cold. It was the dark morning when the chilled wine and the frozen bread came inevitably to transform and transcend the long day of the Fort, of the school, the heavy burdens and the meagre fare. A common experience – a common goal – a common way of achievement – and – a common inspiration: Mary hurrying off with the unborn Christ towards Elizabeth. There was no one else to whom to bring love.

Christ tonight reaches out to the unwilling givers, the unseeing hosts. There is no one else. This then is community. This is the moment, the place, the concrete situation. This is the way. And we are the people – you and I in this small segment of the Congregation. And here it is the meaning: limiting as it may seem, there is no one else.

 

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